Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Speech and Hearing Science

Major Professor

Samuel B. Burchfield

Committee Members

Jim Thelin, Anna Nabelek


Toleration of background noise and amplification efficacy were compared in hearing impaired older persons. Twenty subjects were divided into two matched groups that differed only in their ability to successfully utilize amplification. The successful group utilized their hearing aids full time while the unsuccessful group rarely or never used their hearing aids. The ability to tolerate background noise was assessed by having the subjects select the loudest tolerable level for speech spectrum and speech babble noise while listening to a story. All testing was administered via audible field monaurally with and without the use of the subject's own hearing aid. Signal-to-noise relationships between the story and background noises were compared between the two groups of subjects. A Hearing Aid Performance Inventory rating scale (Schum, 1993) was completed by each subject. Satisfaction rating results were compared with the ability to tolerate background noise. Results showed that successful hearing aid wearers tolerated significantly more background noise. This greater tolerance was seen for both speech spectrum and speech babble noise in both aided and unaided listening conditions. On the average, the successful hearing aid wearers rated their amplification as being more helpful than unsuccessful wearers. A weak correlation was found between the toleration of background noise and satisfaction ratings. There was the tendency for those who could tolerate more noise to find their hearing aids more helpful.

The ability to tolerate background noise seems to be strongly related to success in the use of amplification. It is possible that tolerance measures may have predictive value for hearing aid evaluations.

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